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Early detection of Alzheimer’s disease

Nowadays, the early detection of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) becomes a major challenge as disease-modifying pharmacological treatments, which may alter biochemical processes known to cause AD, are currently under development. The question remains how to detect people with AD in the earliest stages of the disease (prodromal AD/MCI/SCD). The aim of our research is to optimize cognitive screening instruments and neuropsychological tests for the detection of SCD and MCI (due to AD). Therefore we will link our neuropsychological data with biological markers. In a second part we will also focus on neuropsychiatric symptoms (depression and apathy) as possible markers for the early detection of AD.


Treatment of mental disorders: Neurocognitive training as an additional form of therapy?

Relapse and hospital re-admissions among psychiatric patients in residential care units, is frequently occurring; therefore one can assume that current evidence-based treatments (psychosocial and pharmacological treatments) are not sufficient. As mental disorders can be perceived as brain disorders, it may be that training paradigms/programs aimed at directly influencing cognitive processes in psychopathology are an effective additional form of therapy. In our research project, we want to see whether a neurocognitive therapy aimed at increasing general control processes (e.g., executive functioning) may help in reducing relapse among (1) substance use disordered patients, (2) depressed patients and (3) eating disordered patients. This approach is based on a dual-process perspective in which psychopathology is related to a combination of more bottom-up reactive temperamental processes (Behavioral Inhibition (anxiety)/Behavioral Activation (impulsivity)) and the presence of a weak top-down control (regulative temperament, effortful control/executive functioning) to control this bottom-up reactivity. More specific we hypothesize that a neurocognitive training that is capable of strengthening the top-down control will lead to less psychopathology, less relapses and a better treatment outcome in general.    


Eva Dierckx